What is a gap year? A “gap year” is a span of time
between the end of undergraduate education and the beginning of dental school.
It can be longer than a year, depending on your circumstances.
When taking a gap year, there are important steps every student should
consider or take if they anticipate needing financial aid for dental school,
dental hygiene programs or any other graduate degree program following their
Keep Your Loans
From College in Good Standing
federal loans have a six-month grace period that starts as soon as you graduate
or drop below half-time status. This means any federal loans you have from
college will be coming due in the middle of your gap year. These loans will be
placed into deferment when you matriculate in dental school the following year,
but you will be in repayment for at least part of your gap year. Be sure to
work closely with your loan servicer to either select a repayment plan when
they come due or, if needed, postpone them until you matriculate into dental
school and they are placed into deferment status. You can find your
loan servicer for your federal loans at StudentAid.gov. Just look for the “dashboard” that lists all
your federal student loans.
Pay Off Consumer
Debts Before You Matriculate
cost of attendance (COA), also called the financial aid budget, sets the limit
on how much financial aid you can have each year from all sources (grants,
scholarships and loans), but it cannot include consumer debts, such as credit
card payments. Therefore, it is extremely important that you pay these off in
full before you start dental school, otherwise you will be over budget before
you even start school.
School’s Financial Aid Office
Until you are
accepted, the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend cannot
notify you about how much and what type of financial aid you will receive, but
you don’t have to wait until you’re accepted to actually apply for financial
aid. Checking with your school’s financial aid office should help ensure you
don’t miss any important deadlines for grants and scholarships, which are the
best types of financial aid since they do not have to be repaid. Have your
financial aid application completed so as soon as you are accepted, they can
start processing your aid application.
Commitment Programs for Alternative Funding
Take a look at
programs like the U.S. Armed Forces, the National Health Service Corps and the
Indian Health Service, for example, which provide financial support for tuition
and living expenses in exchange for service. While not for everyone, these programs
are a great way to either eliminate or greatly reduce your student loan debt
from dental school.
Be Careful Where
You Get Your Information About Financial Aid
There is a
tremendous amount of incomplete and inaccurate information regarding financial
aid programs, especially when it comes to student loans, repayment plans and
the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Simply put, don’t believe
everything you hear or read about these programs, especially on social media.
Rather, work with your school’s financial aid office for the latest and best
information on how to pay for dental school, including any updates on financial
Use All Available
Resources to Help
should always check with your school’s financial aid office first, ADEA GoDental has a substantial amount of information on
paying for dental school under the Money Matters and Financial Aid Advice sections that may
for Gap Year Students: